Patrick Lyoya’s mother says she is ‘surprised and astonished’ her son was killed in America
The mother of Patrick Lyoya, who was fatally shot by police in Grand Rapids, Mich., earlier this month, said during a Thursday afternoon press conference that she was “surprised and astonished” her son was killed in the U.S.
In the press conference recorded by local ABC affiliate WZZM, Dorcas Lyoya appeared with her family and national civil rights attorney Ben Crump to call for charges to be filed against the officer responsible for the fatal shooting.
Dorcas Lyoya, who emigrated from the Republic of Congo to the U.S. in 2014 with her family, was visibly crying during the press conference. She said Patrick, 26, was her “beloved” first-born son, and explained she and her family fled their home country because of war and believed they had come to a safe place in America.
“I’m surprised and astonished to see that it was here my son was killed with a bullet,” she said, according to a translator at the press conference. “And for that, I need justice for my son.”
Patrick Lyoya was stopped by a Grand Rapids Police Department officer around 8:11 a.m. on April 4 for an issue with his license plate. According to videos released by police on Wednesday, Lyoya immediately got out of the car to talk to the officer, who asked for identification.
Lyoya could be seen in video footage telling a passenger to retrieve his license, then closing the door of his car without getting it and stepping away from the vehicle. The footage shows that when the officer moved to intercept him, Lyoya ran.
After a brief pursuit, the officer could be seen bringing Lyoya to the ground, where there was a brief struggle and the officer appeared to miss two times with his taser and told Lyoya to stop grabbing the taser. Eventually, the video showed the officer firing a single shot into the back of Lyoya’s head.
The officer involved, who has not yet been named, has been placed on administrative leave.
Crump, who has represented the families of several Black men and women who have been killed by police, called for Grand Rapids to release the name of the officer who shot Lyoya and bring forth charges, accusing the officer who shot of escalating the situation and acting violently.
“We are condemning Russian soldiers for shooting civilians in Ukraine in the back of their head,” Crump said at the conference, referring to the alleged execution of Ukrainian citizens in the city of Bucha. “Why aren’t we condemning police officers here in the United States of America, shooting unarmed Black civilians in the back of their head?”
The city has offered condolences to the Lyoya family and called the incident a tragedy. Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said he was committed to being transparent during the process and explained that Michigan State Police were conducting an independent investigation of the incident.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said in a statement on Wednesday that she had spoken to the Lyoya family and promised a “a transparent, independent investigation of the shooting.”
The Lyoya family called for the release of the officer’s name and for him to be terminated from his job and prosecuted.
Peter Lyoya, the father of Patrick Lyoya, said at Thursday’s conference he “didn’t know that here in America” police committed violence.
“I was surprised to see that it was the officer who was really beating Patrick,” he said. “Ever since Patrick grew up, I’ve never seen him fight. And I see this officer fighting with my son. My heart is broken.”
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